Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet and offer a range of healthy nutrients, such as protein and omega 3. In fact, some studies have shown that eating fish regularly can help you reduce your risk of heart disease (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/omega-3/art-20045614).

However, many people might be unwilling to buy and prepare fresh fish at home, out of fear that they might not cook it properly. Whether it’s the idea of raw fish, the fear of undercooking it or the fear of food poisoning. Alternatively, if you’re thinking about entering the food industry, it is imperative that you learn everything about handling raw foods properly.

If you want to cook raw fish and shellfish but are unsure of how to prepare and cook them in the safest way possible, we have created a guide on how you can safely prepare and cook delicious fish dishes without the fear of food poisoning.

How to buy fresh fish and shellfish

If you are buying fish from a supermarket, you can be fairly confident that the fish and shellfish they are displaying is in date, safely packaged and stored at the proper temperature. If you are new to preparing fish at home, it’s recommended that you purchase from a trusted retailer such as a chain supermarket to ensure that the fish has been properly prepared and stored.

Many people buy fish fresh from markets and fishmongers. This can be a great way to get the freshest and most delicious fish, however, you do need to be more careful with how you select your fish.

Firstly, only buy fish that has been thoroughly refrigerated or kept on ice. Next, check the colour of the fish. Fish should not have any discolouration, darkening or dry spots. However, different factors can affect the natural colour of the fish (such as diet and environment), so the colour may not be an indicator of freshness.

Do not buy the fish if it doesn’t smell fresh. If it smells overly fishy, sour or has an ammonia smell, discard it. When looking for shellfish, discard any shells that are cracked or open. If you want a fail-safe way to purchase shellfish, buy it frozen.

How to store fish

Once you have safely selected your fish, make sure that you put it in the refrigerator as soon as you can. You can also put it into the freezer if you don’t plan on cooking it straight away. The fridge needs to be at least 4 degrees Celsius. Make sure that you cover up the fish properly and ensure that there are no exposed areas.

How to safely cook fish and shellfish

If you have frozen your fish or shellfish, defrost it in the fridge for around 24 hours to ensure that it has thawed fully. You can cook seafood in a variety of ways. If you are cooking fish, you can fry it, grill it or bake it. Shellfish can be steamed.

If you have a food thermometer, most fish should have an internal temperature of about 62-63 degrees Celsius. Here are some other ways you can ensure that your fish or shellfish is cooked properly:

• Fish: The flesh should be opaque and should separate easily with a fork.
• Shrimp, lobster and scallops: The flesh should be firm and clear.
• Shellfish: The shells open once they are cooked. If any are closed, throw them away.

If you are unsure about whether your cooked fish is safe, throw it out immediately if it smells sour, overly fishy or rancid.

How to store leftover fish

If you have any leftover cooked fish, place it in an airtight container and put it in the fridge. This will last for a couple of days. To put the leftover fish in the freezer, seal it in an airtight container. Never refreeze uncooked fish that has already been frozen.

Learn more about food preparation today

If you’re planning on entering the food industry, you need to ensure that you know how to prepare fish and other raw foods safely and properly. If you want to learn more information about how to prepare food safely, consider taking a food handling and safety course (https://www.aia.edu.au/) with the Australian Industry of Accreditation today.